A “Tense” Advent

A number of times recently, I’ve seen a “punny” joke in my Facebook newsfeed. “The past, present and future walked into a bar. It was tense.” Depending on your sense of humor, that might bring a smile or an eye-roll, or if you’re like me, both.

During the past week or two, I’ve also realized there is a measure of truth in that idea. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about letting go of the last season so that I can be fully in the moment here. That doesn’t mean I forget the previous seasons though. I can’t grasp onto them, but I continue to cherish memories and praise God for all that He did in, for and through me during all the seasons I’ve walked through.

I’m also aware that I have just over four months before my work agreement here is completed, and I have zero idea of where I will go or what I will do then. As a planner, that’s slightly disconcerting, and it’s easy to get caught up in praying and thinking about what’s next.

As I wrestled with this idea last week, experiencing the tension that comes from trying to balance past, present and future, we arrived at the first Sunday of advent, a day to focus on the hope that we have because of Christ’s coming. The sermon in chapel Sunday morning was about this very idea.

We spend the season of Advent celebrating the birth of Jesus, His first coming. We have hope because of what He accomplished during His time on earth, His life, death and resurrection.

Advent isn’t just about remembering the past though. We also turn our gaze to the future in anticipation of His second coming when He will complete His work of redemption and establish His unending kingdom. We have hope because we know the story’s end. He is victorious. He will return. Tears will be wiped away, creation will be restored, and heaven and earth will be renewed.

In the meantime, as we celebrate the past and watch for His return, we can experience His presence each day through His Spirit in us. We can invite Him to come and dwell with us daily, and He will come. We are invited to abide in Him, and He will abide with us.

I will admit I haven’t yet figured out how to balance the past, present, and future without being “tense” now and then. Each of those things is okay to think about, but I frequently lose my mental balance; sometimes nostalgic joy or sadness follows, other times questions about the future emerge, and still other times uncertainties about what I’m doing here fill my mind.

The only answer I have found when I lose my balance is the classic Sunday school answer: Jesus. When I am aware of His presence with me, I can celebrate, look forward, and live this moment fully.

As we celebrate this season of hope and expectancy, may we not lose sight of Him and His daily advent in our lives.

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